The surprise renaming of the revamped Motera cricket stadium in Gujarat after Prime Minister Narendra Modi today caused a flood of reactions on social media. The largest cricket ground in the world was launched by President Ram Nath Kovind and has a capacity of 1,10,000.
What was earlier referred to the Motera Stadium or the Sardar Patel Stadium will now be called the Narendra Modi stadium. The stadium will be a part of the planned Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave in the city.
Amid controversy over the renaming, the government said the name change involves only the Motera Stadium and the entire sports complex continues to be named after Sardar Patel.
The BJP’s rivals and critics, however, accused it of “insulting” Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a freedom icon and India’s first Home Minister.
Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: “Stunning Motera Cricket Stadium Kudos. However Sardar Vallabhai Patel, great son of India, whose name was used extensively to imply he wasn’t given his due, we now see his name erased from the stadium. I am certain Hon PM will object to his name being used to write-over India’s Iron Man.”
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted a quote in Hindi by Sardar Patel.
“There is something unique in this soil, which has always been the abode of great souls despite many obstacles,” she tweeted.
“इस मिट्टी में कुछ अनूठा है, जो कई बाधाओं के बावजूद हमेशा महान आत्माओं का निवास रहा है।”
~ सरदार पटेल
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) February 24, 2021
Congress leader Hardik Patel accused the BJP of using Sardar Patel for votes and then disrespecting his memory. “The world’s largest Ahmedabad-based Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium has been renamed the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium, is it not an insult to Sardar Patel? The BJP, which asked for votes in the name of Sardar Patel, is now insulting Sardar Saheb. The people of Gujarat will not bear the insult of Sardar Patel,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani targeted the renaming with a jibe.
“The two main pavilions of the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad are named Adani and Ambani! What a coincidence!” Mr Mevani tweeted in Hindi with the hashtag #HamDoHamareDo.
अहमदाबाद के नरेन्द्र मोदी स्टेडियम के दो मुख्य पवेलियन के नाम अदानी और अम्बानी है !
What a coincidence! #HamDoHamareDo
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) February 24, 2021
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and other BJP leaders welcomed the renaming.
“By making fitness an unwavering part of people’s lives, and by making Yoga recognized at the world level, giving the mantra to be healthy to the whole world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s name given to the world’s largest cricket stadium,” Mr Javadekar tweeted in Hindi, sharing photos.
फिटनेस को लोगों के जीवन का अटूट हिस्सा बनाने वाले एवं योग को विश्व स्तर पे मान्यता दिला कर, समस्त विश्व को स्वस्थ रहने का मंत्र देने वाले, प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi जी का नाम विश्व के सबसे बड़े क्रिकेट स्टेडियम को दिए जाने पर @GCAMotera को हार्दिक बधाई। pic.twitter.com/zwVkudhlpn
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) February 24, 2021
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad targeted Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
“Have Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi ever praised world’s tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Kevadia? Have they visited it? What more can be said?” Mr Prasad said, reported news agency ANI.
Another BJP leader, Y Satya Kumar, responded to the criticism with a reminder of institutions and tournaments named after the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“28 sports tournaments, awards & trophies named after members of Nehru-Gandhi family. 19 stadium named after the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Same party people are rattled when merely ‘1’ stadium has been named after Narendra Modi Ji which was his vision and brainchild,” he tweeted.
•28 sports tournaments, awards & trophies named after members of Nehru-Gandhi family.
•19 stadium named after the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
— Y. Satya Kumar (@satyakumar_y) February 24, 2021
The Rashtriya Janata Dal slammed the renaming and tweeted in Hindi: “The true colour of the self-styled ruler is now clearly exposed! This is also the first time in 70 years! But this will be no doubt the last time! Self-indulgence has yet to come down to shamelessness!”
The cricket ground, which was earlier called the Sardar Patel Stadium, and more popularly known as the Motera stadium, was renamed after PM Modi, who was also formerly a president of the Gujarat Cricket Association. The stadium was the pet project of PM Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat.
Former diplomat KC Singh criticised the renaming of a stadium after a sitting Prime Minister.
“Has any other stadium named after an iconic figure been renamed after sitting PM? Unless Modi ji gave Sardar Patel a statue and takes Sardar’s stadium in return,” Mr Singh tweeted.
Home Minister Amit Shah and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, along with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah, were also present at the inauguration.
“This stadium was the dream of the prime minister and he had during his stint as chief minister here floated the idea of building the world’s largest stadium,” Amit Shah said.
The stadium was inaugurated as the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Cricket Stadium by PM Modi in February last year when he hosted a mega-rally there with then US president Donald Trump.
The Congress questioned why the two ends of the stadium were named after corporates seen as close to the government.
The stadium, which can seat 1,10,000 people, is a part of the 215 acre Sardar Vallabbhai Patel sports complex, which, the government says, will be ready to host the Olympics soon.
“All three sports complexes will be able to host all international sports. Whether it is the commonwealth games, or the Asian games or the Olympics, Ahmedabad will be ready for it in six months.